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MSNBC News Live

News/Business. Live news coverage, breaking news and current news events. New.

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Libya 35, U.s. 33, Gadhafi 19, Moammar Gadhafi 12, United States 11, Us 8, Tripoli 7, Msnbc 7, France 5, Jim 5, Nbc 5, America 4, Egypt 4, Bahrain 4, U.n. 4, Mike Mullen 4, Obama 4, Britain 3, Benghazi 3, Yemen 3,
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  MSNBC    MSNBC News Live    News/Business. Live news coverage,  
   breaking news and current news events. New.  

    March 20, 2011
    9:00 - 10:00am EDT  

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next on "msnbc sunday," by air and by sea, the military pounding on libya's making a mark, but is it breaking the will of a defiant moammar gadhafi? you're looking at the latest video of the aftermath of the attacks. we have more straight ahead in a live report from libya. also ahead, rescue in the rubble. more than a week after japan's devastating earthquake, an incredible story of survival lifts the spirits and raises hopes in the search for more survivors. good morning, everyone. i'm alex witt. welcome to "msnbc sunday." 9:00 on the east coast, 6:00 a.m. out west. let's get to what's happening right now out there. breaking news, if you are just waking up. fresh word from the nation's top military officer after u.s. and coalition forces bombarded libya's defenses overnight. admiral mike mullen tells nbc news there is a no-fly zone in place in libya. that's after more than 110 tomahawk cruise missiles from
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warships and submarines slammed the antiaircraft units and command posts. admiral mullen also said that possible outcome of the military action could include the embattled leader, moammar gadhafi, remaining in power. meanwhile, gadhafi issued an audio address on state tv, saying the country was preparing for a long war. on the screen, the image of a giant, gold fist crushing an american plane. nbc's jim maceda's in libya's capital of tripoli. jim, with another good day to you, we have cruise missiles that were targeting sites around the city there. what's it like there now? >> reporter: here, it's quiet. it wasn't so at 2:30, 3:00 in the morning, though, alex. we all jumped and jolted first when we heard a number of explosions. it was these deep thuds that you never like to hear. they could have been cruise missiles, they could have been bombs dropped by high-altitude bombers, but immediately there was just a cacophony. i mean it was absolutely --
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skies were absolutely chaotic with tracer fire coming all directions. it wasn't the kind of organized experience of tracer fire and antiaircraft fire that i've experienced, you know, for instance, in baghdad. here, it was everywhere, in all directions, and it lasted for about 10 or 15 minutes. clearly, those firing those aaa guns couldn't see what they were shooting at. they could hear something. and at one point, we thought we heard aircraft as well. anyhow, it quieted down and it stayed that way here today. very little sense of anything abnormal in this bubble we call the capital of tripoli. alex? >> jim, what about what we're hearing from moammar gadhafi. is he going on record? and if so, what is he saying? >> reporter: well, yes. he's gone on record again and he still hasn't appeared, interestingly enough, in the flesh the two times that he has made a statement through state media, it's been, as you said, that extraordinarily surreal fist crushing the western
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fighter jet with scrolls and often in translation as well. but he has been as defiant, remains as defiant as ever. in his latest statement, he said that the u.n. -- obviously, the u.n. resolution is racist, immoral, illegal. he had said that before. but most disturbingly, this time he's called on opening up all of the state weapons arsenals and handing out to the masses big weapons, everything he has, for them to rise up and fight the enemy, the enemy that he calls the crusader. now, is this bluster? more than likely, it is bluff, but he's used this and has stayed in power many years, as analysts have told you, by portraying himself as an innocent victim of an attack, an attack by the evil forces of the west. it's worked before and there's no reason to believe at this
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stage that it's not likely to pull in a lot of popular sentiment, depending on how long the air strikes go on and how deep they hit the people and the territory of libya. alex? >> jim, in terms of casualties, jim, libya state tv now says 64 people were killed in the allied attacks, 150 injured. any way to verify this? >> reporter: no. at this point, there is obviously no way to verify that. those are figures that we're getting from state television. and of course, on state tv, there were long clips with individuals who looked wounded, saying that they were close to the strikes, that there were a number of civilians who had been wounded. so, it's really the regime trying to get the message out to the west that already there is going to be the backlash, there is a lot of collateral damage, but there's absolutely no way to independently verify any of those reports, alex. >> okay.
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from tripoli, nbc's jim maceda. thank you, jim. this is all an international balancing act for president obama. staying up to date on important issues domestically and abroad, the president is sticking to his schedule on his trip to latin america, but libya's still a top priority, along with telling the american people why our forces are entering this conflict. nbc white house correspondent, co-host of "daily rundown," savannah guthrie is live for us in rio de janeiro this morning. savannah, another good morning to you. i know the pentagon keeping a very close watch over the libyan situation. secretary clinton's in europe in a diplomatic leadership role. who's the one getting the latest information to the president there in rio, where you are? >> reporter: well, he's got a national security team with him. tom donelan, the national security adviser, is taking the lead. ben rhodes, also a national security aide. so, they are briefing the president. he will get his briefing as he does in washington every morning, here in brazil. in fact, he has an open morning this morning and one suspects he is sitting with aides getting
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briefed up on the latest from libya. and he is going forward with the trib to latin america. he has a full schedule today here in rio, visiting one of the famous slums of rio, visit one that's been rehabilitated and is actually featured in a motivie called "city of god." so, he'll also do some sight seeing, seeing the famous statue of the crucifix on top of a mountain in rio later on. he's also got his wife and family here as well. this is one of the occasions where white house aides insist he can walk and chew gum at the same time. he wants to go forward with this trip to latin america. but of course, it is overshadowed by what's happening in libya. >> of course, it is. we know the president's keeping a very close eye on that. may i just ask you what the first lady is doing? i know she's been on sort of a goodwill mission of her own, hasn't she? >> reporter: she has, and she has already met in brasilia yesterday, met with some young people and continuing her pitch to get educated. she talks very personally in
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these settings about her own upbringing and how she grew up with not much, but never imagined she'd be first lady, and yet, here she is. so, she'll continue to -- she's got a couple of events that are just hers alone during this trip, and she's got the two girls with her and the girls were with her at that event yesterday in brasilia. they, of course, are on spring break. >> okay, savannah guthrie. more from you next hour. thank you. well, this is new video of the aftermath of the coalition bombings in libya. you're about to see it here. the u.s. aircraft continuing to carry out attacks on gadhafi's forces and air defenses. i'm joined now in the studio by msnbc military analyst, retired army colonel jack jacobs. >> good morning, alex. >> we have planes targeting government troops. now, does that mean we're confident their air defenses are out, they're down? >> yeah, i think that's what that indicates, that we're satisfied that the ones we targeted, we destroyed, and that there may be others, but they're not coming up online. we have the capability of detecting any time radar is
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turned on to launch munitions at that, the radar down to its source and blows them up. so, we have destroyed some others. they're not turning on. now we've turned to enemy formations, libyan formations of troops. my guess is that the number 64 killed that number's going to go up. >> okay. is the u.s. taking the lead on this first part of the mission, to take out surface-to-air missiles, radars, communications facilities, or is this truly a coalition-led effort and the u.s. is backup? >> i think it's the former. they made a big deal yesterday, the fact that the french were launching and leading the attack. the fact of the matter is, the large majority of damage that's been done of moammar gadhafi's force has been done by american aircraft, many of them stealth aircraft. the b-2s launched 40 munitions overnight using precision-guided munitions. now, whatever we say, we're taking the lead. >> how long's it going to take
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to complete the first part of this mission, which as stated, is just to take out all the defenses there and any ability for moammar gadhafi to attack and establish this no-fly zone? i mean, has that been created? is it done? >> well, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff has said that the no-fly zone is in effect. that is, we have eliminated the large majority of the danger to any planes, and therefore, we have a no-fly zone that's currently in effect. how long it takes to do whatever else is going to happen is difficult to say because nobody's articulated what does happen next, what is the objective, other than moammar gadhafi's disappearing. there's a period of time when nothing is going to happen and everybody's going to be asking is a government magically going to appear in tripoli? that's -- the military part of it is relatively easy. we do a very good job of blowing things up with great precision, but it's doiifficult to say wha
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anybody expects next politically. >> with the no-fly zone, gadhafi hasn't been primarily using aircraft to fight the rebels there in benghazi and elsewhere. i mean, how much help is a no-fly zone? and might the next step be a no-drive zone? >> well, i think that's already in place almost automatically. i believe you're absolutely right. because we're attacking enemy tanks -- we have done since yesterday. and now it sounds like we're attacking enemy troop formations, actual libyan units, that it's a no-move zone as well. so, i think we've moved on to the next phase already. >> colonel jack jacobs, more later. thank you. >> see you later. >> we will continue our coverage of "operation odyssey dawn" in a few minutes by looking at the justification of the military action and implications it may have throughout the arab world. but now to incredible developments in japan. an amazing rescue more than a week after the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami. police say a 16-year-old boy and his 80-year-old grandmother -- you see them there -- they've been rescued nine days after the quake. they say the two were found
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alive in the devastated miyagi prefecture. meanwhile, officials are backing away from plans to vent more radioactive gas into the air from one of the damaged nuclear reactors, saying that the pressure inside the reactor number 3 is still high, but it is stable. and some amazing video just in from the japanese coast guard taken the day of the massive quake. it shows the giant tsunami rolling toward that ship about three miles or so off the northeast coast of the country just after that quake. let's go live once again to tokyo. nbc's robert bazell there. with another good morning, robert, what are you hearing about the two survivors? >> reporter: well, i'm hearing what you're hearing, alex, because i'm a long way away from that site. we've seen those same pictures and heard that same story, and it is quite wonderful and inspiring. of course, that's two people compared to the many thousands who died and the hundreds of thousands who are homeless, so it's quite a tragedy up there still. so, yeah, it's good news and we like to hear these stories, but
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unfortunately, it's just part of a much bigger picture. >> okay. and the latest on trying to control the problems at the nuclear reactor, what's the latest there? >> reporter: everything is looking, if not better, at least good. as you said, that reactor number 3 that they thought they were going to have to vent some radioactive steam today, and that concern went away, and you go down another six reactors that are at the site, and there's good news, or at least hopeful news, at each one of them. and i think that nuclear experts will say that there could be a surprise any time now, and it could get worse again. but all of these rods are getting cooler by themselves every day, unless they started other nuclear reaction, which is getting to be less and less likely. so, this situation, with every passing day, it has a chance of at least resolving with less release of radiation. >> does that extend to the fears about radiation contamination in the food?
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>> reporter: well, the radiation has been coming out of the plant every day now since soon after the earthquake and tsunami. so, that stuff has been getting into the wind and around japan. the contaminated spinach and milk were found in areas around the reactor, in fact, as far as 90 miles away from the reactor. some of the spinach was on some farms. so, that stuff has already gone out there and it's still going out. so, they haven't stopped all of the leaking of the radiation from the site, and even after they do that, you're going to find contaminated milk and vegetables and other things in the environment around there. and that's a cause for concern. and people aren't happy to hear that. the japanese government is going to meet tomorrow to have a very strict policy about what they do with contaminated food, how they go back on the food chain and try to identify places it's come from and shut that down to try to reassure people's fears about their food supply. alex? >> very interesting information coming from that meeting then. okay. nbc's robert bazell. thanks, bob.
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still ahead, is nuclear power still a viable option here in the u.s.? does provide more peril than power? we'll talk to a representative from the nuclear power industry. also ahead, the attack on libya. why now? why didn't u.s. and european allies intervene in other violent crackdowns on dissent? you're watching "msnbc sunday." and had your shoes shined. well, i made you a reservation at the sushi place around the corner. well, in that case, i better get back to these invoices... which i'll do right after making your favorite pancakes. you know what? i'm going to tidy up your side of the office. i can't hear you because i'm also making you a smoothie. [ male announcer ] marriott hotels & resorts knows it's better for xerox to automate their global invoice process so they can focus on serving their customers. with xerox, you're ready for real business. to finish what you started today. for the aches and sleeplessness in between, there's motrin pm. no other medicine, not even advil pm, is more effective for pain and sleeplessness. motrin pm.
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at 18 past with this breaking news right now. the u.s. military is calling the first round of bombings in libya a success. after pounding libyan defenses with more than 110 tomahawk cruise missiles, the top u.s. military chief tells nbc news a no-fly zone is effectively in place. the obama administration took a wait-and-see approach during the first few weeks of this conflict, but the u.n. resolution opened the door for this coordinated response to moammar gadhafi's violent
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attacks on his own people, but is there a khalclear justificat for a u.s. involvement in a contained civil war? mark ensberg is the former u.s. ambassador to morocco and former middle east adviser to the white house. good to see you, mark. good to have you here. >> good to be with you. good morning. >> let's talk about the situation right now. i want to know where there is a tipping point, if you will, between the united states military approach and intervention to a humanitarian crisis versus looking at something and saying, okay, threat to national security. and is there -- where is that tipping point and where are we in this situation? >> well, i have long argued that we have no strategic national security stake in libya. the obama administration is probably trying to construct some sort of obama doctrine, whereby where there is humanitarian crisis as a result of our revolutions, where there is a certain number of people who are in threat of being killed, the international community's justified intervening. now, i'm not constructing that. they're trying to construct it
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because they backed into this involvement in libya without a clear strategic vision as to exactly what the role of the united states is going to be and how far are we going to take this role. >> okay. but this is different than what happened in egypt because the country was not firing back like this, like moammar gadhafi. different than what happened in tunisia. again, the country was not firing back on its own people. but you look at what's happening in bahrain and yemen. what does this say about our approach in those countries then? there's violence there. >> well, those are our allies, and that's the big difference. once again, we're making real politic choices here. we support the royal monarchy in bahrain. we've made it clear that we are erring on the side of supporting the monarchy against the demonstrators. the same has more or less held true in yemen. but gadhafi's expendle. gadhafi's not important to the united states. he gave up his weapons of mass destruction, at least his nuclear weapons of mass destruction -- he still has
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other wmd. other than the oil that is exported to europe, he's not important to the united states. and so, in effect, we made the calculation that he is someone who could more destabilize the revolutions that are occurring in egypt and tunisia on either side of him than keeping him in power. >> so, then, is this truly, purely a humanitarian mission? i mean, it sounds like politics is at stake here. >> well, i think it depends on who you're making the argument with. inside the white house, it's quite clear that there are people who i would call the pro democracy crowd inside the white house, who said we've got to do something in support of those poor people in libya who are being killed. let's look at what france is doing. france was leading the charge here. why? why was president sarkozy so gung ho to attack libya? it's because of internal european politics having nothing to do with the united states and what's really going on in libya. he wants to establish himself as the leader of a new mediterranean union. his european allies have resisted that temptation.
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the germans didn't support him in this no-fly zone vote in the security council, one of our most important allies. so, there's internal european politics going on here, and we are somewhat being pulled into this by the french. >> how about the internal perception on all of this within the arab world? is there a danger this will be seen as u.s. involvement in a third arab country with military interventi intervention? >> there is a real danger because gadhafi's pop granada machine is in full bore, working on arabs' thoughts of why is there no arab involvement in the initial attacks? the arab league voted for a no-fly zone, yet we have not seen planes from the united arab emirates or from bahrain. egypt and saudi arabia is not involved. the real danger is that gadhafi will make the argument strong enough, this is a christian crusade. well, you know, within arab
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mentalities, that plays very harshly on the minds of arabs about what they see going on here, and that's the real danger. the sooner the obama administration is able to get an arab league participant out front on this, the better the united states is going to be. >> who are these rebels in libya? do we know their makeup? and why are we supporting them? >> well, in some respects, it's almost -- there are true liberal democrats as part of the crowd, there are people who truly oppose this regime and are very good people, very much patriotic, want to see libya free. and then you have a smorgasbord of islamists. you have perhaps members of al qaeda who have infiltrated in who are part of the libyan fighting group who oppose gadhafi. now, secretary of state clinton met with them during her trip to egypt. she must have been reassured in her meeting that this group, this provisional council that the french have recognized now as a legitimate government of libya, has the capacity to at
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least be a coherent opposition to gadhafi, but that remains to be seen, whether they can militarily go on the counteroffensive and, basically, peel all the way back from benghazi to tripoli. that's a 450-mile hike. and remember, gadhafi's lives have been extended now. where does the opposition get the military force to launch a counter offensive? >> good questions. very good thoughts. mark ginsberg, thank you. >> thank you. good to be with you. crowds of antiwar protesters rallied outside the white house saturday against both the u.s.-led war in iraq and the air strikes in libya. police arrested about 100 people when the group refused orders to move. a rally staged near the u.s. military recruiting center in times square drew a smaller crowd. new york democratic congressman charles rangel joined them, saying he is angry congress was not consulted on the air strikes but is not clear whether military action was justified. as a kid, i couldn't wait to skate on that ice.
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hactiitians are going to th
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polls today to choose a new president. the winner takes over a country where nearly a million people are living in temporary camps after last year's earthquake. and in egypt, people stood in line to vote on constitutional amendments. the vote is the first major test of the country's transition to democracy after an uprising overthrow president hosni mubarak. a powerful storm is bringing lots of rain to the west coast. let's check in with the weather channel's alex wallace to see how the season is starting off weatherwise. good morning, alex. >> good morning to you, alex. yeah, not so great here for us on the west coast. we've got this system driving on in, and with it, we've got pretty much everything you could think of, rain, snow, wind, you name it out there for us. getting into the radar, showing you what we have around san francisco. spotty showers in place right now. wet start to our morning. then you head into the higher terrain, it's all snow and we'll be measuring some of that snow in feet lfbefore it's all down. down towards l.a., showers,
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heaviest to the west, but that will be moving in through our day. so a soggy time for you as well. southwest, though, looks pretty good for the day. we have high pressure still in place, so phoenix should enjoy a dry day today. tomorrow will be wet. l.a., though, wet skies, san fr fran, up towards portland, where you will see some sunshine poking through. that will be there in seattle. so not too bad of a day at 53 degrees. again, farther south, we'll be into a big mess here for you. we're talking some of the areas picking up one, two, three inches of rain. farther south is where the heaviest rain is going to be, closer towards los angeles. when you start getting into the three to five-inch range in terms of rainfall, that is going to be quite a bit of a mess. that could lead to flooding issues, mud slide problems as well. and look at the snow totals, getting up over two feet out there. so, a mess in the west indeed for this last day of winter. alex? >> okay, alex wallace, thank you for that. well, in the wake of the attacks on libya, strongman moammar gadhafi is sounding more defiant than ever. stay with us. [ woman ] welcome back, jogging stroller.
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32 past the hour. breaking news from america's top military officer. u.s. and allied forces have successfully established a no-fly zone over libya and halted moammar gadhafi's offensive against rebel forces. speaking today on "meet the press," chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, admiral mike mullen, also emphasized that u.s. involvement on air strikes are not intended to oust the libyan leader, but to get him to back down. >> what we expect is him to stay down, not fly his aircraft, not attack his own people, and to allow the humanitarian efforts, which is such a significant part of the united nations resolution, to take place. >> you can see the rest of admiral mike mullen's interview on "meet the press" when it reairs today at both 2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. eastern here on "msnbc sunday." as colonel moammar gadhafi pledges all-out war against the international coalition vowing to stop the violence in libya, the arab league is authorizing all necessary measures to end the humanitarian crisis in that country. but as the rest of the arab
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world looks on, how might this conflict reshape perspectives in the middle east? i'm joined by the director of research at brookings doha center there in qatar. with a good day to you. most interestingly is the reaction of the arab world. initially, what is it? >> well, i think this is fundamentally different than iraq in 2003 in the sense that the arab league is behind this and actually backed the no-fly zone before the u.s. did. but also, ordinary arabs are largely supportive of this because they sympathize with the pro democracy forces in libya who are really fighting for their freedom against an oppressive regime. and i think what we've seen the last couple months in the arab world is this arab solidarity where people want to support each other's uprisings. so, the egyptians had the revolution, the tunisians did. now people see that it's the turn of the libyans'. >> okay. is there a perception that this is the third u.s. war on an arab
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state? >> well, no, because the u.s. has been very careful to say that it is not leading this, this is not a u.s. operation. and i think that's been very clear in the coverage. so, for example, france and britain really seem to be out in front of this. people are aware that the arab league is supporting this. so, i think there's more of a sense that this is a broad-based coalition, and that if anything, the u.s. was actually hesitant to act and maybe acted too late. >> how much cover does it provide that many arab states, though, are a part of this coalition? you alluded to it further, but they have not been out in front here. >> well, no, they haven't. and the most they're going to do is probably provide some logistical support, maybe help arm the rebels. but if we're looking for a major arab military contribution, i don't think that's what we're going to see. first of all, arab countries are generally weak.
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they're consumed by their own internal issues. many of them are facing uprisings as we speak. so, i think it's not being very realistic to think that they're going to play a very big role here. >> might the u.s. get any credit from corners of the arab world for trying to intervene in a humanitarian crisis? i mean, might that not carry tremendous weight and a sense of goodwill throughout the arab world, ultimately? >> i think that's the hope here, and the u.s. really has an opportunity now to realign itself with the forces of democracy in the region. and i think that if this operation is successful and the libyans finally have their freedom, i think people will look to the u.s., britain and france, and say that they played a very positive role, and that could, perhaps, lead to a redefined relationship between the u.s. and its arab counterparts. so, there's a big potential for that, but a lot of that hinges on what the ultimate outcomes
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are in libya. >> okay. give me some outcomes. worst-case, best-case scenario. how do you see this? >> well, i guess i'll start with the worst case. i think what people are worried about is what happs if gadhafi's forces really dig in, they put up a good fight? there are some people who seem to be quite loyal to him. and then what you could have there is a stalemate where the rebels don't have the capability to defeat him. or i mean, i think the ultimate hope is that gadhafi will just step down, but i don't think that looks very likely. the best case scenario is that the rebels regain their strength. we have air support from the western countries. they're being armed, so they have better equipment and they're able to march towards the rest of the country, towards tripoli, and are able to decisively defeat gadhafi's forces, but that's not going to happen overnight. that will probably take at the very least a couple weeks. so, i think we have to -- this
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is not going to be a quick, easy operation, assuming that we want to help the rebels get to that point in the first place. or is the goal just to protect civilians as u.s. officials have been saying over and over? >> all right, shadi hamid, many thanks for weighing in. we appreciate that. stay with us for the continuing coverage of the military action in libya as we explore its implications and expectations. we have incredible news from japan this morning. police say two people have been rescued from the wreckage of a house nine days after the catastrophic earthquake and tsunami. authorities say rescuers found a 16-year-old boy on the roof of his house calling for help. he then led the rescue team inside where they found his 80-year-old grandmother. both were weak but conscious, and the helicopter threw those two to a nearby hospital where they are recovering. meanwhile, the operator of the damaged nuclear plant in fukushima has called off plans to vent radioactive gas at one of the troubled reactors. tokyo electric power says pressure inside the unit 3 reactor is still relatively high
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but stabilized. also today, japan's top government spokesman says the nuclear plant will have to eventually be closed. joining me live now, michael wallace, vice chairman and coo of constellation energy. michael, good day to you. >> good morning. >> so, we keep hearing that nuclear power is safe, but when you have something like a chernobyl or a three mile island happening, and now fukushima, do you understand why so many people are concerned right now about nuclear power? >> sure. it's very topical for people to ask the question about the safety of nuclear plants, but having been in the industry for 41 years, the navy nuclear, then commercial nuclear power, i can tell you that safety is absolutely number one. it's our passion. it's in the dna of those of us who have responsibilities for operating nuclear plants. and in the united states in particular, the record, the facts demonstrate that our plants are performing better and better every year, to the point where they are among the best in the world today. and those are statements i could
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have made before 9/11. when 9/11 occurred, we then undertook yet another set of reviews involving the department of homeland security, the nrc, department of energy and the fbi, considering scenarios far beyond the regulatory requirements so that we would be prepared with procedures and equipment and training to deal with very, very extreme scenarios, the sort of situation that japan is experiencing. so, we find ourselves today prepared to deal with fires and the need to get water and total loss of electricity that i think should make our public quite confident and also confident because the nuclear regulatory commission overlooks this whole process. >> okay. now, on constellation's energy website it says the company owns and operates three nuclear plants in the u.s. what's the oldest plant that constellation energy has? what are the safeguards in place
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to prevent what we're seeing at fukushima, if there's some terrific natural disaster in the united states? >> we actually have five nuclear units at three sites, and the oldest of our plants is approaching 40 years old, but that's really not a relevant metric, because the nuclear regulatory commission, the independent agency of the federal government, with over 4,000 workers, sets the standards that every plant must meet, regardless of age. and in setting those standards, the nrc then reviews, tests, they have a minimum of two individuals on every nuclear plant site in the u.s., they conduct inspections. they have the ability to inspect anything at any time, and they have the authority to shut the plant down if there's unacceptable performance. so, the age is not a relevant factor. the nuclear regulatory commission establishes the standards and expects them to be implemented uniformly for all
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plants. >> so, do you have no fear whatsoever of a natural disaster? because i've got to tell you, i've spoken with people before who have said there are certain kinds of natural disasters -- a tsunami, for example, a 9.0 earthquake, for example -- with which the stability of a building, you just cannot guarantee it's going to stay straight and operating properly. i mean, do you have any concerns at all about safety? >> i have absolutely no concern about the safety of nuclear plants in the u.s. i have no fear about nuclear plants in the u.s. i'd be glad to have my family live right next door to a nuclear plant in the u.s. we have undergone review after review for flooding, tsunamis, loss of offsite power, hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and done all of those reviews with additional margin added on top. and another thing about our industry, alex, is we have an
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absolute passionate focus on lessons learned. so, when we do make a mistake or there is a problem, whether it's at our plant or a plant in japan, we draw down the lessons learned to make our plants even safer. and i'm absolutely confident. and the nrc, the public should bring confidence, is bringing oversight to the process, as well. >> now, are you suggesting that the japanese people or those that were operating the fukushima daiichi power plant, that they weren't prepared for something like this? >> well, the level of preparedness that we've gone to in the u.s., especially with what we've done since 9/11 in conducting comprehensive reviews with federal agencies that i named, is beyond what any other country in the world has done, to our knowledge. and it's caused us to put in place more than the regulations requi require, equipment, so that we can recover exactly from the sort of events that japan has seen. >> okay. michael wallace, i want to thank
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you for weighing in. we appreciate that. >> thank you. the nuclear crisis in japan's surely raising new concerns among americans about nuclear energy. in a gallup poll taken on march 19th, 70% said they were more concerned about a nuclear disaster happening in the united states. before japan's disaster, american confidence in nuclear energy appeared to be growing. in a gallup poll taken a year ago, 62% of americans supported nuclear power, up 3% from 2009. we're america's natural gas.
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gadhafi said his country was prepared for a long war and says western forces would regret this. joining me is steven cook, senior fellow of mideast studies in the council of foreign relations. good morning, steven. >> good morning, alex. >> they are opening arms depot to libyan citizens. could this become a drawn-out war like iraq, a quagmire? >> well, certainly not for u.s. forces, particularly given the fact that president obama made it clear there would not be u.s. ground forces in libya, but there is the possibility that gadhafi could arm broader groups of people who remain loyal to him to take on this rebellion. of course, you have to take everything that gadhafi says with a grain of salt, but with any kind of military operation, we don't know what the outcome is going to be. >> okay. the u.n. resolution, we know, seeks to protect the citizens of libya from the government forces. in the past few months, we've seen yemen, we've seen bahrain violently crack down on the protesters there. so, what is it about libya that
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makes it different? why is the u.s. involved there? >> well, it's a very good question. i think the major difference here with, for example, bahrain, which is a long-standing ally of the united states, where the u.s. base is the 5th fleet, there has been an effort on the part of the united states to get the bahraini authorities to engage in negotiations with their opposition. the bahraini authorities have, to some extent, expressed interest in doing that, despite recent events, whereas gadhafi has engaged in widespread, indiscriminate violence against his own people. so, i think that's the real difference that you're seeing between these two. but it raises a good question -- where do we stop? after all, the yemeni authorities opened fire on peaceful protesters just the other day, killing over 40 of them. at what point do we draw the line with these middle eastern dictators, whether they're washington's allies or not? >> and what about the arab
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league, do you think they should be playing a more prominent role here? >> well, the arab league is a weak organation made up of a variety of weak states that are undergoing some element of internal turmoil, and it is divided itself. i think the fact that you got an arab league resolution in support of this military action is an arab -- is an achievement in and of itself. individual arab countries are expected to take part to some extent in this operations, whether it is logistics from egypt or actual fighter aircraft from the eye newted arab emirates. i think at this point we should have lower expectations. >> admiral mullen says are if he's ousted, who will take his place? and will the collision be responsible for helping form a new government? >> that's a very good question. we don't know who these people are in benghazi. there's no clear identifiable
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alternative to gadhafi or his sons. what we are looking at is a very messy situation. essentially what the international community, primarily the united states, britain, france, have tried to level the playing field so perhaps there's a fair fight between libyan forces and rebels, and perhaps someone will emer emerge. bev taken steps in libya where we don't know who could potential come to power and take over for gadhafi should he fall. >> steven cook, we appreciate it. >> thank you. in just a moment the political realities, can president obama expect support from the american people? and why is president obama catching criticism from both sides of the aisle? you're watching msnbc sunday. i needed a coach. our doctor was great, but with so many tough decisions i felt lost. unitedhealthcare offered us a specially trained rn who helped us weigh and understand all our options. for me cancer was as scary as a fastball is
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new word this morning there's an effective no-fly zone in libya. that's what the chief military officer is telling msnbc.
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and. from libyan air strikes in middle east unrest to reactor -- robertsh and julie epstein is ceo of lmg incorporated. good morning to both of you. >> good morning. >> let's start with this from president obama yesterday. >> i am deeply aware of the risks of any mill tier action, no matter what elements we play on it. i want the american people to know the use of force is not our first choice and it's not a choice that i make lightly. >> okay. >> so, robert, from a political standpoint how is it that the american people get that message and believe it? >> very important for two reasons. >> a friendly reminder we are engaged in two military conflicts in the middle east, ands american people are very leery in terms of sending our
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armed forces into yet another conflict. a second point, which is very important. presidents are all about legacy, making sure they have a proper place in history. the last thing president obama wants is to be placed in history as a person who let hundreds of thousands of civilians die over in libya. he's very cognizant of president clinton's words, where he said his biggest regret was rwanda, and president obama doesn't want that on his watch. >> you'll have opponents on both sides of this argument, but one consistent message saying they wanted to be consulted before military action. what do you think will be the reaction on capitol hill? >> there were consultations with the leadership of congress. there will be some complaints from some members, but on the whole i think both parties, certainly the leadership will
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endorse the action. i think robert is right, this is a textbook example of how to handle this type of conflict, but also from a public relations point of view. he's laid out a rationale for doing this. he has assembled a brilliant international collision, but also of the arab league. he has very, very clear legal authority. he's made it clear will wouldn't by any commitment of ground troops and he's also made it clear the time duration would be limited. so the key things are a rationale that we prevail and we don't have an open-ended commitment. >> but what if it goes on longer than expected, julian? >> i think that's the idea. this is not just a no-fly zone. as barry mccaffery was pointing out in the groan room before we came on, they're going out after the actual facilities in
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numerous parts of libya, so i think we have the military technology capability to make it clear to gadhafi that if he intends to go on the offensive, we can go right back in and stop it from happening. >> okay. robert from a political standpoint, what if it lasts longer than expected? what's the ramifications? >> there are major ramifications. there's no reason why we should be in this no more than two or three months, but having said that, one never knows. what's also telling is the republican leadership has been pretty vocal in saying, mr. president, we support you in this effort. what's also very telling is that a couple hours ago, the democratic leadership had a conference call and some of the more liberal wing of the party are questioning the constitutionality of this situation. so, you know, it appears that the republicans again seem like they're all for this, but on the democratic side, at least on the liberal side, there are
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questions. i think president obama will have to answer for that in the next couple hours. >> i would slightly disagree. i don't think the public cares that much about the war powers act or dissenters on. on the whole, the leadership is fully supportive of this, and this kind of coalition and effort was done in record time, i might add, as well. >> julian epstein, robert, thank you. we'll take you back live to tripoli as well. stay with us on "msnbc sunday."